This season at Rent Like A Champion, we haven’t just been finding fans like you vacation rentals near college football stadiums across the country, we’ve been breaking down top games and match-ups in our weekly email newsletter.
And this season, no game looks like it’s going to be bigger than the Iron Bowl in Auburn next week (shameless plug—we’ve still got over 35 homes available for rent… okay now back to the good stuff).
Sure, we’re still a week away, but the team over here at RLAC is already counting down the days to this colossal rivalry game.
So let’s get ahead of ourselves and break down the three reasons this Iron Bowl is going to be a guaranteed classic.
MAGIC AT JORDAN-HARE STADIUM
We’ll start simple: Auburn is really (REALLY) good at home.
In the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare, Auburn is 5-0 this season, and is outscoring opponents by more than 28 points per game.
Against the first-ranked Georgia Bulldogs, the Tigers had a success rate (a measure of necessary yardage gained by an offense per play) of over 50%, bringing their success rate at home up to 47.4%. Defensively they’re holding opponents to just 13.4 points and 277 yards at Jordan-Hare, while allowing a stifling 3.7 yards/play.
On the other side, it’s hard to dispute how great Alabama has been this season—they’re #1 in the S&P+, and sit atop every poll that’s been put together this week.
But in their last two SEC road match-ups, the Crimson Tide have shown cracks in the armor.
Against Texas A&M in College Station, Alabama managed just 27 points and 375 yards (compared to 39.9 points and 474.1 yards per game on the year), while last week’s game at Mississippi State required late-game heroics from Jalen Hurts for Bama to come out on top.
Still, their defense ranks 1st in the country with yards allowed on the road… so this one could turn into a defensive stand-off very quickly. Speaking of which…
JARRETT STIDHAM WILL BE PUT TO THE TEST AGAINST BAMA’S PASS D
Jarrett Stidham has emerged as one of the best passers in the SEC. He leads the conference in completion percentage (67.1%), and is 3rd in both yards per game and overall passer rating.
But he hasn’t seen anything like this Alabama pass defense.
The Crimson Tide secondary ranks 6th in havoc rate (a rating that measures passes defended, tackles for a loss, and forced fumbles) and are allowing 167 yards with a success rate of just 33% through the air per game.
Plus, Stidham has had trouble when forced into long yardage passing situations—where Alabama is allowing opponents less than a 20% success rate (2nd in the nation).
And with Alabama’s absolutely tremendous rushing defense, which is allowing opponents just 85 yards per game, it’s safe to assume that Stidham will be forced into plenty of those long yardage plays… where he’ll need to be mistake free against the Crimson Tide, who have an excellent turnover margin of +11 in 2017.
SEC WEST ON THE LINE… AND POSSIBLE PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS
It goes without saying what will be on the line in Auburn on November 25: the winner will wrap up the SEC West and will face Georgia on December 2 for the SEC Championship Game.
Assuming both teams win this weekend, however, this game could also have huge CFP implications, as well.
For Alabama, a win against Auburn all, but guarantees them a spot in the College Football Playoff. Even if it were to lose to Georgia in Atlanta, it would be unlikely the selection committee would keep a one-loss Crimson Tide out.
But if Auburn wins, the situation becomes more interesting.
Auburn would face Georgia in a rematch of last week’s victory in which the Tigers trounced the Dawgs by 23 points. It’s reasonable to believe that Auburn could do it again, which would give them three marquee wins in the span of just four weeks.
No two-loss team has made the College Football Playoff before, but if Auburn does run the table it would be hard to argue that they’re not deserving of a spot—especially given that both of their losses came on the road against 4th-ranked Clemson, and 21st-ranked LSU.
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